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April 2009

I Can't Complain About The Marvel vs Capcom 2 Demo

Marvel vs Capcom 2UPDATE: A PS3 remote control makes this situation a bit more tolerable. 

Coming out of nowhere, a free demo of the freshly announced Marvel vs Capcom 2 has landed on the Sony PlayStation Network today as foretold by the ancient prophecy.  As you'll recall, the demo offers local multiplayer with six playable characters.  Sounds great, right?  The other shoe dropped when I downloaded the demo and found that two people are required if one wants to play along with two controllers.  That means there are no human vs CPU capabilities, nor can one use a single controller swapped between the Player 1 and Player 2 characters to set up a human vs defenseless punching bag match just to see how the game looks in its revived form, either.  This really sours the demo experience, right?  Unfortunately, I can't think of a way to grouse about this without sounding whiny, cheap, or greedy.  It's a free demo, after all.  It's not supposed to be full-featured or 100% complete.  How can I complain about the demo's crippled state when, well, it's supposed to be crippled?  So while I may not be happy about how this demo of Marvel vs Capcom 2 has worked out, you won't find me saying so in print.  The menus certainly look nice though.

Ghostbusters Preorder Options Split Up, Do More Damage That Way

Golden proton pack and ghoul Out of all of the decisions you'll have to make this year, the most urgent involves choosing where to preorder the upcoming Ghostbusters: The Video Game in order to maximize your bonus incentive premiums.  Different stores are offering different bonus items and the game's official website has a convenient list of all of your options.  We already know about the Slimer Edition and the GameStop in-game costume bonus, but those are not the only things available.  Wal-Mart and Best Buy have their own items up for grabs.  Choose and perish!

Wal-Mart / Sam's Club: EXCLUSIVE Gold Proton Pack: Your player is equipped with an exclusive Golden PROTON PACK. Made of solid gold, this is the portable, unlicensed nuclear accelerator of the rich and famous. This feature is available in single player and multiplayer modes.

Best Buy: Reserve Ghostbusters the Video Game and receive this pre-order option of replacing the default rookie likeness with one of our exclusive characters.  With all their exposure to the paranormal, it was only a matter of time before the Ghostbusters brought the paranormal onto their team. The Exclusive Ghostbusters GHOUL replaces “the rookie” regularly seen within the game with a grave robbing ghoul. This feature is available in single player and multiplayer modes.

The golden proton pack is neat, but I'm going to stick with my Slimer Edition preorder.  The ghoul character seems kind of pointless to me.  I can't help feeling that there are some awesome bonus items that are not being offered.  Where can I preorder to get a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds?  What about a dancing toaster (hand insurance not included)?  How about a copy of Venkman's book, Magical Paths to Fortune and Power?  Atari and the various retailers behind the preorder promotion are leaving money on the table here. 

Saturday Supercade Sampler

1983 CBS Saturday Morning Preview Special Two years ago I directed you to a pair of segments from the old CBS Saturday morning cartoon Saturday Supercade featuring the adventures of wily gorilla Donkey Kong, his trainer Mario, and his niece Pauline as well as Donkey Kong, Jr.  The show included segments based on other arcade games of the early 1980s that aren't as well-represented online, but leave it to Platypus Comix to dig into an old VHS tape of the 1983 CBS Saturday Morning Preview Special that includes looks at Supercade segments based on not only the Kongs, but also Pitfall, Frogger, and Q-Bert.  Let's flashback to the days when Scott Baio was major star power and Boss Hogg from Dukes of Hazzard was a credible threat.

Saturday Supercade clips are hard to find, made obvious by the fact that every review of this show online is about the same episode. Now that time has changed. Platypus Comix is proud to exclusively present, for the first time since the 80's, a clip of the Donkey Kong cartoon that doesn't involve him marrying a farsighted rich southerner. I couldn't tell you what episode the clip is from, but DK actually throws a barrel in it. It's about time.

The Pitfall cartoon is revealed next. Saturday Supercade had five rotating shorts but only four spaces per week, and Pitfall was left out during the week the "common" episode was taped. Most people, including me, have been curious about what it was like. Well, this was what they did with it: you have Pitfall Harry, Harry's 12-year-old niece Rhonda, and for an unexplained reason, Snagglepuss. Only it isn't Snagglepuss, his name is "Quickclaw." ....But who is anybody kidding; it's Snagglepuss only with a worse name and an eyepatch. And he's not alone; this show was also Xeroxing Scrappy Doo of all characters. Why was Ruby-Spears ripping off some of the most unappealing cartoon stars of the day, and so blatantly? Heavens to Murgatroid.

It seems that every generation of children born post-Atari had their own cultural landmark video game cartoon to enjoy.  The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and Captain N: The Game Master weren't perfect, but whenever I see clips of the gaming cartoons that came before and after my formative years, I feel privileged to have grown up with Mario and Mega Man as opposed to Q-Bert or Pikachu (although I admit that the jury is still out on the long-term ramifications of Video Power).

Rumored PSP Go! To Please Some, Anger Others

Insert your own revised PSP concept image here Rumors of another hardware revision for the Sony PlayStation Portable have been flying for a long time now, but some of those rumors are starting to solidify as E3 draws near.  Now 1UP has tossed its hat into the rumor ring with a report of a UMD-less iteration of PSP that includes built-in flash memory, a sliding screen, and the most markety name for a portable system since Nintendo slapped an "i" on the end of the Nintendo DS.  1UP presents the PSP Go! (that's not my exclamation mark, it's part of the Go!'s name).

Many have speculated that the update would be called either the PSP 2 or PSP-4000, but our sources claim Sony will forgo a numerical moniker in favor of a subtitle. We've heard various rumored code names for the project (including PSP Slide, PSP Flip, and PSP Go!), but given that Sony has introduced the Go! brand of add-ons (the Go!View video on-demand service and 1.3 megapixel Go!Cam) for the European PSP, it seems likely that the new system will in fact be called the PSP Go! Our sources further confirm that this redesign will be available in two SKUs, with either eight or 16 GB of built-in flash memory. The system is set for release in Japan this September with a U.S. debut coming in either late October or early November.

In addition, since the UMD is going away, Sony will have over 100 classic and new PSP titles available for download at launch (Gran Turismo Mobile is said to be one of the premier launch titles). As for the hardware itself, the redesign will include a d-pad, analog nub, and face buttons as part of a sliding unit sticking out below the screen (as seen in our mockup above). Unfortunately for those looking for twin-stick shooter controls, the new system will not have a second analog stick, but instead will remain consistent with the current control configuration.

Let's get the good news out of the way first.  I like the built-in memory, although I wouldn't say no to a Memory Stick Pro Duo slot for some extra breathing room.  The sliding screen?  Aside from one more thing to break on the PSP, I can't think of anything wrong with it.  I'm even OK with the lack of a second analog stick/nub (maybe I just don't play the kind of games on my PSP that most people seem to believe could benefit from a second nub).

Continue reading "Rumored PSP Go! To Please Some, Anger Others" »

Lost Sunsoft Game Sunman Emerges From Phantom Zone

Sunman We've seen plenty of canceled, unreleased-but-mostly-finished video games emerge from hibernation onto the Internet over the years: the original EarthBound, Star Fox 2, and Squashed come to mind at first thought.  Now we can add Sunsoft's Nintendo Entertainment System game Sunman to the list.  Lost Levels has the story of where Sunman came from, where he might have been going, and who he's supposed to be (hint: Man of Steel).

Sunman is a side-scrolling action game that at first glance bears a resemblance to Sunsoft's Batman: Return of the Joker, which was released for the NES in the United States in 1991. Both games feature large, detailed characters and backgrounds that frequently contain multiple layers of parallax scrolling. Any similarity between the two games is skin-deep, however; unlike Sunsoft's obscenely powerful, heavily-armed rendition of Batman in Return of the Joker, Sunman only has his fists to protect himself throughout the majority of his game.  It will only take a few minutes' worth of play, however, to figure out that Sunman was intended to be a game that utilized the Superman license. For all of Sunman's mysteries, this observation is perhaps the most readily apparent.

I can see the Superman resemblance when I browse through screenshots of Sunman in action.  I'm not convinced we missed anything special when Sunman was quietly dropped from production back in the day, and the game actually makes for a more interesting story now as a lost game because of its mysterious past.  Take a look at this game.  Do you really think anyone would be clamoring for a Sunman revival for modern consoles today if the original adventure had been released?  Or is it only interesting because of the unanswered questions about its origin?

(via MetaFilter)

Prince Of All Cosmos To Go On Forever

Katamari Forever Remember that new Katamari Damacy Tribute for the Sony PlayStation that was announced a while ago?  It's taken on a new title outside of Japan as Katamari Forever featuring new adventures for the Prince of All Cosmos, 1080p visuals with new graphical filters, quirky music, and stars Jim Carrey as The Riddler.  Here's the new trailer:

I have to agree with the giraffe: I want it now!  There's something very pure about the Katamari experience that most other games striving to be as unique have no hope of capturing.  Don't miss the tease about rolling up entire continents and planets in a bid to manually create your own galaxy.  Creating your own galaxy is all the rage this console generation, it seems.

I apologize for raising the specter of Batman Forever with the Jim Carrey joke.

(via Kombo)

Beyond Beeps: Uncle Fester's Quest

Uncle Fester's QuestThey may be creepy and kooky, but they're also a bit out of place as the peculiar Addams Family sends Uncle Fester out to stop the alien invasion in the 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System adventure Uncle Fester's Quest. Here we have a game produced by Sunsoft about two years too soon, as the game is based on the 1960s Addams Family television show's portrayal of Fester by Jackie Coogan and predates the 1991 revival of the property that cast Raul Julia as Gomez and Christopher Lloyd as the bald lightbulb-sucker himself. Exactly why this game (and its horrid box art) exists is left to another day. Today we're here to enjoy the quirky music that serves as Fester's companion as he explores both city overworld and sewer underworld in search of the alien mothership. Let's start things off with the most kick-ass, rousing rendition of the classic Addams Family theme that you've ever heard produced by 8-bit beeps and bleeps. Everyone sing along now!

Continue reading "Beyond Beeps: Uncle Fester's Quest" »

Marvel vs Capcom 2 Returns For PS3 And X360

Marvel vs Capcom 2Fans of charismatic characters pounding one another until time runs out are celebrating today as Capcom and Marvel have announced a re-release of the classic brawler Marvel vs Capcom 2 as a $15 downloadable title releasing in Summer 2009 for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.  This surely puts a cramp on the outrageously expensive out-of-print PS2 and Xbox versions of the game, but so what?  Those of us without deep pockets and time to kill on eBay finally get a crack at the game with upscaled HD visuals, online multiplayer, and custom soundtrack options.  Neat, eh?  A free demo of the game will be released on Thursday, April 30 in North America on the PlayStation Network.  What's in the demo?  The PlayStation Blog has the details.

  • Two-player local matches
  • Six available characters – Ryu, Chun-Li, Strider, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Wolverine
  • Seven selectable environments
  • Upscaled 1080p graphics
  • Widescreen or 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Two graphic filter options for character sprites
  • And other cool options to check out

I'm looking forward to this one.  I've played all of the other Capcom/Marvel productions (Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men vs Street Fighter, etc.), but never got around to this one.  It has been hard to find for a reasonable price.  I've never even seen the older versions in used game shops with the single exception of a GameStop that wanted $90 for the worn PS2 version without a manual or original case.  The used game market can certainly be a demanding beast.

Play Them Mushroom Kingdom Ragtime Blues

Mario at the keyboard Playing classic video game tunes on the piano for the benefit of Internet critics everywhere is becoming somewhat of a standard occurrence these days, so today's example isn't so much about the performance of ragtime pianist Tom Brier (which is quite good, don't get me wrong), but more about the little scene crafted by MetaFilter commenter Loquacious that I believe pairs up with Brier's rendition of the timelessly famous and forever memorable Super Mario Bros. 2 overworld theme.  Hit the Play button this YouTube video to establish the proper mood and then read on...

I'm having this cool daydream right now. I'm back in 1900 or so, visiting in my time machine, blending in with the population in costume. I slip into a respectable tavern for a sandwich and a cold one. They have a good piano and it attracts good players. Everything is appropriately old-timey and then...

Suddenly I recognize the music and no matter how much I want to keep my cool I'm flabbergasted - compelled to turn and stare at whomever is playing that damn song. I've blown it. He knows I'm a time traveler, and I suspect he is too. He flashes me the universal two-handed gesture of holding a d-pad controller and mashing buttons, and I'm out of there. I knew it. Fucking time cops.

I can relate.  If I had access to a time machine I would make a point of scattering my favorite video gaming music throughout history, paradoxes be damned.

Hands Off My Princess, Turtle King

Princess Peach kisses Mario We've been told for twenty-plus years to save the princess, but what are the long-term ramifications of carrying out that directive?  Kombo's Joey Davidson steps outside the castle for a moment to explore the role of female characters in video games and how story structure and psychological theory influence how we view the digital women in our lives.  Today's example?  Princess Peach's place in Super Mario Bros. and how we, as Mario, are supposed to interact with her. 

Finally, with [Super Mario Bros.] at least, I'd like to tackle the game's end reward for saving the Princess, the supposed kiss. I say supposed because it does not actually happen on screen. We've seen the kiss in the SNES remake of SMB on Super Mario All-Stars, but the NES version leaves that bit out. We will, once again, have to assume it is implied in order to achieve full effect for this argument. [Laura] Mulvey looks to [Sigmund] Freud in order to get a grasp on the concept of sex and making love on screen and why it is that we, as viewers, find the moments so pleasurable. According to Freud, almost every member of the human race could be considered scopophiliac. We get pleasure from looking and watching, and we get pleasure from imagining that we are what we are watching.

Now, I realize that the 8-bit version of Princess Peach is far from sexy. You could never logically consider her an object of sexual desire in her NES state. But I would like to demonstrate that what she represents in the game is a prize of sexuality.

A kiss from Peach has been an end-game reward several times: Super Mario Bros. (All-Stars), Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64, just to name a few.  Ultimately that isn't why I/Mario set out to save her though.  It's all about the adventure for me.  The kiss at the end is just window dressing for a structured narrative, particularly since even though both Mario and I rescue her, only Mario gets the physical reward. 

The terrible thing is that I've been rescuing Peach for twenty-some years now starting from when I was a child.  I am now conditioned to save that specific helpless girl in the pink dress.  Seriously.  If Ganon whisks Zelda away then I will take up the fight for the sake of good versus evil and saving the world, but if someone messes with Peach then I will take him/her/them apart with a vengeance.  So there you have it: unquestioning loyalty for a fictional character.